Do you know your consumer?

Dashboard on computer

If you are like most companies, and executives, you are spending a good amount of your day telling people that you ‘know’ your consumer, rather than actually truly understanding your consumer.

In today’s fast paced data collection business world, corporations are spending millions of dollars building consumer profiles and using that data to build sales funnels. Every consumer (yes, you) has a ton of data collected about them. Everything you do digitally is being captured and tracked.

Sell. Sell. Sell.

The truth is the data does not tell the whole story, or even a good story. Corporations talk internally about putting you in a funnel. A sales funnel. In fact they spend most of their time these days figuring out how to drop you into one of their funnels. They use social media to get your email address to spam you, deliver targeted advertising to you to continue the narrative, and then continue the loop.

Executives are fast turning into the car salesman of yesterday. High pressure digital sales. I actually have heard a CEO* recently say “all we want is their credit card number. I don’t care about anything else.” You see that’s all they really want. They want money. That is their directive. To be profitable at all costs. How much profit is up to each corporation, board of directors and executive team. I can tell you that the answer is always “more.”

1. High Pressure Digital Selling

What can I do to get your email address today? This tactic may work in the short term, but a long term high pressure sales strategy will not reflect well on your brand, or your corporation. A company that employs this strategy will have lots of turn over at the senior management level.

2. Don’t Bullshit the consumer

The consumer, or user, can smell your crap a million miles away. Talk honestly and transparently about your services and products. If your products are good, great. If you sell crappy products, well, time to rethink your job and company.

3. Your funnel tactic is doomed

The concept of a sales funnel evolved from consumer behavior modeling. It was observed decades ago that consumers all have a purchasing process. This process differs for each type of consumer. Some consumers spend a lot of time researching and some consumers buy immediately. The idea of a sales funnel strategy is to get your product in front of the consumer at the right time in their decision making process. There is no data in the world that can fully achieve this timing. There are too many emotional inputs that can affect a consumer.

4. Consumers will buy when they are god damn good and ready!

Consumers today are bombarded with buy messaging. They know what it is. The subtle art of advertising is not quite how it appears to be, and the small percentages of return have been proof of that for decades. A good return rate for print is 2% and for digital its 0.06%. Advertising really doesn’t work.

5. The Lifetime Value of the customer

To make sense out of these low returns, corporations now look at the Lifetime Value of the Consumer (LVC), or how much can they expect to get out of you whilst they have your trust and/or credit card. Essentially it’s another data point to make their marketing campaigns seem more worthwhile.

What is the take away?

If you have a good product, the consumer will buy, enjoy it and share their experiences with their friends and colleagues. If you sell bad products. Well… there is no way to really package it that will hide its flaws for very long. That’s it.

Apple created great products that changed the world. Everyone holds Apple up as the shining example of success. Their products were seemingly magic and every company began to mimic their design aesthetic. Apple was the best of the best, and consumers rewarded Apple with money. Lots of money. 

Remember, Apple was not always that good. Apple created some really bad products. Really bad. Not just one or two bad products, I mean years of bad products. It appears to this long time Apple user that they are trending back that way again… only time will tell. But Apple’s path really only worked for them as a company, and you can’t be Apple.

1. Be honest with your consumers and your company.

Be honest with yourself. Be honest with your company and your team. Are your products the best that they can be or are they a work in progress? Make sure you understand which, and let your consumer know. The more the consumer knows the more trust you can build.

2. Build better products

This I can not stress enough. Make better products.

3. Stop jumping on someone else’s train

Are you trying to copy another companies plan? Are you trying to copy another companies path? Do you spend most of your time looking at your competitors rather than at your consumers?

Executives tend to look at their competitors too much, always trying to follow as quickly as they can. If companies would stop copying each other, there would be a lot more advancement and experimentation leading to greater innovation. 

*Disclaimer: Not all CEO’s are alike.